Pune-based social enterprise reCharkha is upcycling plastic waste into bags, table mats, home decor items and other products, while also reviving artistic skills. To date, they have upcycled 7 lakh plastic packets and have clocked in a revenue of Rs 70 lakhs.
Founded by software engineer Amita Deshpande, they employ local waste pickers and tribals from Dadra Nagar Haveli. It claims that 70 per cent of its workforce comprises women.
The plastic waste is collected from individuals and organisations, which is then cleaned, washed, sanitised and dried. It’s then divided based on colour and sent to the recycling unit to be woven.
The production process includes the plastic being spun into yarn on a charkha. It’s then woven into plastic fibre on a handloom. These steps help reduce the energy consumption in the production process, compared to using machines.
“Huge volumes of plastic waste are generated only in urban areas and my vision of uplifting tribals could only be met in rural areas. Plus, our village was once known for its handicrafts but as the economy grew and mass production took over, artisans declined. ReCharkha is reviving artistic skills and solving the plastic crisis,” says Amita in an interview with The Better India.
In the beginning, people didn’t see the value of Amita’s products. To better communicate her products’ journey and her ideas to the public, she made a video showcasing the entire process, from waste segregation to the final product, which she played at expos, workshops, exhibitions, and more. Slowly, sales picked up.
While she’s focused on growing the venture, Amita serves as an inspiring example of how one can generate livelihoods through ecologically responsible work.